1.27.2014

Vegan 'cheesy' cauliflower bread sticks

Somewhere over the rainbow I found a recipe on Pinterest for cheesy cauliflower bread sticks. And over the last few months I've made this recipe, wishing, hoping and praying for it to turn out.

Don't get me wrong. Regardless of how it's "come out" each time, it's been delicious. It's just, it's never been quite bread stick blogworthy quality. 

Until now.

You see, the non-veganized version of this recipe is really simple. It's basically cauliflower, eggs, cheese, spices. Kaboom! But because egg, in conjunction with the cheese, works as the primary bonder in this recipe, it makes it a little trickier than your run-of-the-mill "replace the egg" veganization. (I'm just making up words ALL over the place). 

So I've tried a lot of different methods. I've used the "vegg" egg replacer (if you haven't gotten on this bandwagon yet, you should, order it from whatever store has it and enjoy an almost-too-realistic egg experience). Unfortunately, the Vegg is more yolky than egg whitey, so it didn't really suffice in these bread sticks. 

Next up I threw together my go-to replacer, some flaxseed and water. Yeah, that basically made this taste all flaxseedy and stuff. So that was a no go. 

Then there was that time I tried to use some silken tofu, blended up super well in my food processor. That was really, really close visually, but when you went to cut it it was more crumbly than stick-like. So back to the drawing board we went. 

Finally I scoured the internet, trying to figure out what people use in doughy recipes if they don't have egg. The main suggestion I found? Garbanzo bean flour. I'm basically convinced it doesn't exist. I mean, I know it does because I've heard my friends talk about it, but I'm pretty sure there's a law against selling and buying it in Ohio. I went to SEVEN (count them), SEVEN stores looking for this mystical flour and I had absolutely no luck. So I hop on my trusty cellular device and ask it, "OK Googies (I have a Google Nexus phone and I like to confuse it by calling it Googies when I want to search something. I think it can tell I'm a smart ass), what can I use instead of garbanzo bean flour?" And wouldn't you know it, trusty Googies has an answer for me. Can't find garbanzo bean flour, Amanda? Maybe you should try:

FAVA BEAN FLOUR. 
CHICKPEA FLOUR.
BEAN FLOUR.

Hey thanks, thanks a lot for that. We don't have garbanzo bean flour, but chickpea flour, didn't think about that! Silly me! (Please note the sarcasm). 

So after going to seven stores and being betrayed by my sweet, sweet Googies, I decided to say eff it and buy some random ass kind of flour. I started reading the different kinds and looked at what "recipes" were included on the packaging. I settled for Bob's Red Mill, Whole Grain Brown Rice Flour. It was gluten free and it didn't cost an entire year's tuition at Harvard (I'm looking at you quinoa flour and xanthan gum), so basically a win-win in my book.

And well folks, that book was finally right. So after this incredibly long-winded story, I present to you the vegan version of that pin you've probably drooled over 1,000 times already.



Vegan 'cheesy' cauliflower bread sticks
(Makes a quarter baking sheet of goodness, so like four servings)
Ingredients:
One large head of cauliflower
8 oz shredded vegan cheese (I opted for Daiya's mozzarella)
1/4 cup whole grain brown rice flour
2/3 cup water
2 TBS Italian seasoning blend (I'm lazy, I work 40 hours a week and have two kids. I don't have time to have all those separate spices!)
1 TBS minced garlic
1 TBS olive oil
Vegan pizza sauce for dipping (we used about one cup of it for the whole pan of bread sticks)
Optional - vegan Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top (we use the Go Veggie Vegan variety)

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. 

Take 1/4 a cup whole grain brown rice flour and mix it with 2/3 cup water. Let it sit (it gives it a chance to thicken some). 

Cut your head of cauliflower into small chunks (florets). Place in a large, microwave-safe bowl, splash a tiny bit of water on it and heat for six minutes. Take it out and place in a food processor and pulse into small, rice-sized pieces. Mix in your vegan cheese, spice blend, minced garlic, olive oil and whole grain rice flour/water "egg" mixture. Stir until well-blended. 

I lined a baking sheet with parchment paper because I felt lazy and didn't want to scrub the pan later. I recommend doing this too, but if you really like cleaning make sure to grease that cookie sheet up! Spoon your mixture on and spread it out. Mixture should be much thinner than a dough, but thick enough to "sit" and spread on a pan. Top with some vegan parmesan cheese and then bake for 25-30 minutes (or until edges brown and you can't leave it in any longer because you're going to scarf it all down). 

Let it sit and cool for five minutes and then cut into strips. Dip into vegan pizza sauce for some extra pizzazz.

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1.24.2014

In 2014, I resolve to be more thankful

Sometimes my bark is worse than my bite.

Actually, most of the time, I just bark a lot. Don't get me wrong. I bite too, especially if the occasion calls for it, but ultimately, I'm the kind of person that likes to raise a fuss.

I can't help it really, I'm just super-duper opinionated and I was raised by an incredibly strong woman. Those two items translate to a blogger and wannabe feminist that can type really, really fast.

Generally after getting a good rantfest off my plate, I like to prove to all my fans and followers that I'm not a complete lunatic all the time. So while I let strangers' comments on my septum piercing get my panties in a twist yesterday, today I'm going to talk about the #100happydays project I'm currently participating in and why the hell I'm doing it.

In case you haven't already jumped on the happy bandwagon, let me give you the quick rundown on happy days. It's a super easy project that asks you to take one photo a day of something that makes you happy. It can be something as simple as your morning coffee (which judging by three of my photos makes me REALLY happy) or something more touching like your babies being adorable. Regardless of what it is, you just snap a quick pic of it and then post it on some social media channel with the hashtag #100happydays. It may sound way too simple to you, but in this ridiculously busy world we live in, sometimes you don't feel like you have the time to stop and "think" about being happy.

I'm the kind of person who has a tendency to look at the glass half empty; particularly if said glass has say green tea in it (blech) as opposed to a delicious iced coffee. So the happy days project appeals to me because it's NICE to be reminded each day of the small beauties and victories in our lives.

We can get so focused on the "big" picture that we forget about all the tiny shots that make it up. So far I'm 18 days deep and I've been happy for things like: my kiddos loving on each other, Braeburn crawling into a cabinet, my new DSLR camera I bought that I'd been DROOLING over and almond milk gelato (something ELSE I was drooling over).

Still curious what this Chubby Vegan Mom is happy about every day? Come follow me on Instagram, my social media network of choice when contributing to the project. You'll notice my user name is Amanda Onomatopoeia, which is basically my street name, don't be alarmed.

STILL need a reason to participate yourself?

Because it's fun. It's easy and it's super encouraging. When I'm starting to get down on myself because of a mistake at work (believe it or not I'm NOT perfect, gasp!), for losing my temper with the kids or maybe I'm just not focusing on all the things going RIGHT in my life, I like to peruse my instagram posts and look at all the different things that I've been blessed with in the last three weeks.

Is it corny? Maybe.

But has it made me more grateful? Certainly.

In addition to the happy days project, we've also started doing a family "jar." When something special happens (big or little) to our family that makes us happy, we write down what it is, date it and throw it in a jar. At the end of the year we plan on rehashing some of the awesome things we've been through with our friends and family. I want our kids to grow up knowing the small things really do count. I want them to know that in a world of depression, anxiety, boogeymans, monsters and bad guys, that these tiny, everyday, glimmering moments happen so frequently and ARE enough to get us by. There is enough good in the world if we keep looking for it. Hopefully this jar will serve as that reminder.

Are you taking part in the happiness project or do you have a way you stop and give thanks every day? Let us know and maybe we'll join in the fun too!

1.22.2014

Don't you want to be a good example for your kids?

A little over a week ago I went off on a little tangent on my personal Facebook page. You see, for like the bajillionth time I had a perfect stranger tell me something I'm tired of hearing: "You'd look so pretty if you didn't have that nose piercing." The nose piercing they're referring to is not of the nostril variety, but rather, my septum. I've had it pierced for nearly two years now, and despite my going back and forth between the thicker, bigger, 12-gauge horseshoe and a dainty 16-gauge one, it garners the same ridiculous questions.

So I figured it was about time for me to respond to all those silly little questions people have been asking me since I started inking up my "pretty" skin and pushing holes through various parts of my body.


1. Why on Earth would I get a big hoop through my nose? I would look so pretty if I didn't have that piercing. 
  • Hey you, thanks for inquiring about the giant hoop through my septum and why I'd want to ugly myself up so much. Oh, I'm sorry, that's not what you meant? When you told me "I would look so pretty" you really meant that as a compliment? You meant to say that I was pretty, but that giant hoop through my nose was the ugly part? Or wait, you meant to say that I am pretty, I'd just be prettier if I didn't have my nose pierced? Or, OK, let's just stop now before you talk yourself into a corner. Oops, too late. You know what I think would make you prettier? If you'd shut your mouth about "how much prettier I, A COMPLETE STRANGER, would be" if I didn't have my septum pierced. Look, I get it peeps. I realize when I got my septum done that it would make me far less attractive to most of the population, and honestly, I'm OK with that because I'm not trying to attract most of the population. So it's not only OK if you don't like my piercing or if you think it makes me less pretty, it's actually your right to. But realize the second you open your mouth and decide it's your right to tell me, A COMPLETE STRANGER, what would  make me "SO pretty," you're giving me the right to provide the same criticism to you. So instead of asking me WHY on Earth I would get a big hoop through my nose, why don't you just keep your opinions of beauty to yourself and I won't unleash my thoughts on your trashy black hair roots, muffin top, crazy perm and hot pink lipstick. 
2. Why on Earth would I get a big hoop through my nose? 
  • This question actually isn't offensive in the slightest to me. It's a perfectly logical question. I got my septum pierced because I think it's beautiful. I think piercings are pretty and unique to every person. I like to think of my body as a Christmas tree, so why not hang some ornaments from my nose? OK, no, seriously, I really do just like the way it looks. Believe it or not. And you know what? It's OK for me to think it's beautiful and for you to think it's hideous. Just like it's OK for me to think skinny men are attractive and muscles are icky. It doesn't mean it's the truth, it just means it's my opinion. 
3. Didn't it hurt to get my (insert random body part) pierced?
  • No, having a giant needle shoved through my nose, face, ears didn't hurt at all. In fact, it felt like tiny kittens nestling their little heads into my palm. Um DUH, it hurt. It's a needle, getting shoved through my flesh. It certainly didn't tickle.
4. So if it hurt so much, why would you get it done? 
  • This is a good question, which is why I gave it legitimate thought and tried to figure out how to explain it to people who don't like tattoos and piercings. I got (insert random body part) pierced because it's something that makes me feel more beautiful, prettier. And sometimes, a few second of pain is worth feeling pretty. And before you go all "that's not true" on me, I will leave you with the following beauty rituals that "normal" women perform daily, weekly, monthly that is in no way shape or form enjoyable: shaving every inch of our flesh, wearing five-inch, peep-toe heels, SPANX, waxing our eyebrows, plucking our eyebrows, hell doing anything to our eyebrows and have you seen an eye lash curler? It's basically a torture device. So yeah. I'll take two second of pain from a needle to have a piercing for the rest of my life (or as long as I want it) because it makes me feel pretty (oh so pretty ... I feel pretty and witty and ... I'll just stop). 
5. Aren't I worried about what people might think?
  • I can understand how my venomous response to the first question might make you think I'm self-conscious about my piercings. But I'm not. So no. No, I'm not really worried about what people might think. Who cares what people think? I don't care if some stranger things I'd be more beautiful without my septum pierced. I do care that they feel like it's their social responsibility to school me on what would make me prettier to everyone else, however. We're human beings. We're going to judge each other on something, I figure my piercings and tattoos just beat them to the punch. Maybe they won't notice my love handles if I get a BIGGER hoop through my nose!? (Will try this and report back!)
6. So it doesn't bother you that most people think you're trashy, uneducated or trying to be "cool?" 
  • Isn't it funny how a few extra holes in your face can foster people to create such extreme conclusions about a person? I mean, how many other "trends" can delude people into describing me as "hipster," "trying to look younger," "trashy," "skanky," "freaky," "Goth," "unintelligent" and "cool." No. It doesn't bother me if people think I'm trashy, uneducated or trying to be "cool." I'm not doing this to be a "movement" or to prove anyone wrong, I'm doing it because I like it. Plus, it's kind of funny to see them look at me like I'm all sorts of wrong and then tell them I have a kick-ass, work-from-home job with a reputable company, two kids, a college degree in the English language, OH, and just to defy a few more "stereotypes," I teach pitching lessons to adolescent girls AND I'm being inducted into my college's INAUGURAL Athletic Hall of Fame (with just three other individuals). BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE. 
7. What happens to all these things when I get older? 
  • To be honest, when I'm 80, I think I'm going to be a little more concerned with living and breathing than I will with the little umbrella I have tattooed on my foot. And for reals, how is this even a question you should get to ask someone? Well gee, Jimmy Bob, aren't you concerned that your already giant ears are going to be the size of dinner plates by the time your 80? Aren't you worried, Suzy Q, after 60 years of perming your hair that it might fall out when you're 80? Oh, you're not? Then I'm not going to worry about what my tattoos are going to look like when I get older. And if you really want to know what they're going to look like when I'm 80, I'll let you in on a little secret: They're going to look BADASS. Because I'm going to be a wrinkly old grandmother with badass tattoos under my sweaters and cardigans. 
8. I'm just doing this for attention. 
  • Shut up. This isn't even a question. And no, despite the possibility of the world spinning off its axis completely because I didn't pierce and tat myself up merely to "get attention," I DIDN'T GET TATTOOS AND PIERCINGS FOR ATTENTION. If anything, these bring about unwanted attention, stupid questions (there is such a thing) and personal opinions I usually don't care to hear. Do you know the sorts of things I do for attention? I wear low-cut tops when I want to feel sexy, I curl my hair if I want people to notice how long it is, I wear high heels because I love the attention I get from being tall. But jabbing a few holes in my face? No, that's not because I want to hear some inane response about how much prettier I'd be without them.
9. If God wanted me to have these holes in my body, he would have put them there.
  • You know, I can't really comment on that. I'd like to think God has better things to worry about than what holes he put in my body or which ones I'm adding. Maybe if God didn't want us to have extra holes in our body he shouldn't have "let" us invent piercing supplies. MAYBE if God wanted you to have blonde hair he would have given it to you. I think this comment is so funny because most of the people who say this to me fit one of two categories: straight-laced, school-marm types that wear pearls in their earlobes (because what, it's OK to jab holes in your earlobes but not your face?) or old men with some half-naked woman inked on them somewhere. Sure, God didn't want me to have my septum pierced but he wanted you to get a half-naked mermaid on your bicep. OK. 
10. I'm a mom, don't I want to set a good example for my children?
  • This one hits a very, very sore spot for me. Yes, I am a mom, and I DO want to set a good example for my children. And how dare you insinuate that my being pierced or tattooed sets a POOR one. With the help and support of my husband, we've accomplished a lot. I pay my taxes. I read to my kids at night. I coach sports. I pay for my children to take dance, ice skating and swim lessons. If my little girl wants to be an apple-pie, American cheerleader, then she can. I own a home. I own a car. I have a CAREER. I snuggle with my kids. I tell my daughter she's beautiful. I tell my friends they're beautiful. I run 5Ks. I take lots of photos. I plan birthdays and parties. I throw gender reveal parties for my pregnant friends. I'm a GOOD friend. I'm a beautiful, educated woman. I go on family vacations. I can throw darts. I'm a member of my daughter's preschool parents club. I plan trips with friends. I bake vegan cupcakes. I cook a mean lentil loaf. Stop me when you find something that is hindered by my having a tattoo or a piercing. Stop me when you find something that ISN'T setting a good example for my children. You see, I don't take too kindly to people trying to make me feel like I'm not a good enough mom because I have a few extra hoops in my nose or because I've got tattoos covering my left shoulder. I'm a DAMN good example for my children because I'm being ME. Because for once in my life, I'm proud of where I am, of what I can provide and of WHO I am. So no, I don't want to "set a good example for my children," I AM A GOOD EXAMPLE FOR MY CHILDREN. 

1.20.2014

Peanut tofu with homemade low-carb rice ... yep, it's true

OK, so I kind of got a little tricky on this recipe.

You can google low-carb rice and noodles all day until the cows come home, but you're going to see a lot of conflicting results. There are people who claim this magical pasta brand makes products with easily-digested carbs, others say it's a complete joke.

Regardless, the search for true "low-carb" grains remains ongoing.

 But this homemade low-carb rice can definitely find a special place in your heart.

The best part? It's one ingredient and you can find it in your produce department.

Say WHAT?

You might remember I doted about the magical qualities of cauliflower to shape shift into basically anything, and friends, it really does the trick when it comes to replacing rice.

Making cauliflower "rice" is really easy, really delicious and still really filling. I was totally skeptical in the beginning, how on Earth could CAULIFLOWER ever replace my precious rice? But it did. It has. And it's going to keep on doing it.

Because I try really hard not to just eat a bunch of rice by itself all the time, I decided to pair this with some extra firm tofu we had sitting in our fridge, a stalk of broccoli and some peanut butter. Woo, we get wild in the Chubby Vegan house!


Peanut tofu with homemade rice
(Serves 4-6)
Ingredients:
1 large head of cauliflower
1 stalk of broccoli
1 package of extra firm tofu
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 TBS vinegar
2 TBS soy sauce
1 TBS brown sugar
1 TBS sesame oil

To make the cauliflower rice:
Cut your head of cauliflower into small chunks (florets). Place in a large, microwave-safe bowl and heat for six minutes. Take it out and place in a food processor and pulse into small, rice-sized pieces. Set aside.

Take the tofu out of the package and squeeze out the excess moisture. (I use paper towels or kitchen towels). Cut into small pieces (a little bigger than bite sized). Set aside.

Take your head of broccoli and cut into small florets. Set aside.

In a large skillet or saute pan, combine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and peanut butter. Once it's simmering, stir in brown sugar. Add tofu and broccoli. Cook on low to medium heat for 10 minutes. Place cauliflower rice on a plate (add a splash of hot sauce if you're feeling wild) and then top with peanut broccoli tofu.

It sounds crazy, but I'm telling you, this is our go-to "rice" for stir fry and everything else these days.

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1.15.2014

Om Nom Nom ... the best cookies you'll ever nom nom on

It's no secret that I'm a self-diagnosed sweets addict. When it comes to sugary deliciousness, I'm ALL over that. So when I got an email from a wonderfully pleasant person with Om Nom Nom cookies asking if I'd be interested in reviewing some of their baked goods, I squealed with delight (and then I replied calmly to the email and said 'yes, please').

I was lucky enough to receive a Mix-and-Match sampler pack, which contained six different cookies: orange-zested chocolate chip, chocolate chip, red velvet, spicy mexican snickerdoodle, cranberry walnut oatmeal and ultimate peanut butter. This sampler pack retails at $12 and let me tell you, these cookies were worth every penny of that and MORE.

For starters, each cookie had a different texture, which can be hard to come by in store-bought vegan cookies. The chocolate chips were both softer like you'd want them to be, the red velvet made me feel like I was taking a bite of red velvet cake, meanwhile the snickerdoodle was a little chewy (in the oh-so-perfect cookie way), just like a snickerdoodle should be.

And let me tell you (girl scout's honor here), I liked every.single.one of these cookies, something which is very hard to come by for me. I'm not normally a fan of cookies with funny nuts and fruits in them, but even the cranberry walnut oatmeal won me over. And I couldn't keep my daughter's hands off of these cookies, she wanted to open each one and try them all RIGHT away. Of course I obliged, because who am I to let a good cookie (or six) sit?

Each of these cookies were amazing, but every member of the Chubby Vegan Household had their favorite, and here's why.

My favorite was the orange-zested chocolate chip. Why? Because it was like a grown-up version of your go-to cookie from childhood. It had the right amount of orange zest so it wasn't overwhelming, but left a little surprise after you took a bite. After letting the other family members sample small pieces of this, I decided to reserve the majority of this cookie for ME.

Chubby Vegan Dad's favorite cookie was (surprise, surprise) the cranberry walnut oatmeal. He adores anything with fruit and nuts in it because it reminds him of these delicious little fruitcake loaves his sister used to make for him (one's that I've tried on many occasion to mimic, unsuccessfully). It was a little bit soft, had an awesome texture because of the oatmeal and just a hint of sweetness that reminded you it was a cookie.

 I should mention, the spicy mexican snickerdoodle was a very close second for both Chubby Vegan Dad and I, because it had the perfect hint of "spice" to change the pace of the cookie up a bit, but the awesome flavor of snickerdoodle you've come to know and love.

Pearyn's favorite was the peanut butter cookie. She's kind of an addict when it comes to anything with peanut butter in it, so the fact that this was put into cookie form with MORE sugar basically made it a ringer if you asked her.

And Braeburn didn't miss out on any of this cookie fun, either. His favorite was anything we fed him, as he willingly ate every single bite of every single cookie.

If you're looking to change up your cookie eating habits a bit and are tired of the same ole contenders, I really recommend you check out this awesome little company. Their cookies are all vegan, all the time, and they offer a gluten-free option for the chocolate chip cookie. I really can't rave about them enough!

If ya couldn't tell!

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1.10.2014

Start your New Year with a Healthy Surprise!

One of the most common New Year's resolutions is to lose weight, be healthier and eat better stuff. Sometimes it's not easy to pick out healthy snacks, though. Trust me, I'm the shopper perusing the "snack" aisle that ends up with eight different bags of barbecue chips and 15 boxes of cookies in her cart. They're just "snacks" so it's OK if they're a little unhealthy, right?

Sometimes. 

If you're like me and have a hard time making the right selections in the snack aisle, let me strongly refer you to Healthy Surprise! This little box of Heaven showed up on my door shortly before Christmas and my family was absolutely enamored. I've already ordered a box for a friend as a gift. 

What exactly is Healthy Surprise?

It's simple. This is a company which puts together different box sizes and promotions of real snack food with real ingredients - all REAL good for you! Once a month you'll receive a tasty box of awesome snacks. I know, it sounds too good to be true, right? Actually, it keeps getting better. This service screens it's ingredients by the following standards: 
  • Gluten free
  • Natural
  • Wheat free
  • Corn free
  • Soy free
  • Plant based
Oh and did I mention DELICIOUS? 

The beauty of this service is that you can select from three different box sizes depending on your lifestyle needs. 

The first is $33 a month and is designed for 1-2 people. It contains 1-plus  full-sized snacks with at least 16 servings.

If you're looking for something a little bulkier, the next option is $60 and provides 16-plus snacks for 1-4 people. That's more than 32 servings!

And lastly, if you like to snack your butt off, you can get the Combo box. It's designed for 2-6 people, contains 27-plus snacks and provides a whopping 48 or more servings!

Our box was loaded with amazing things, from black bean chips, dehydrated apple chips and AMAZING kale chips, to chocolate bars, fruit leathers, squeezies and RAW vanilla coconut macaroons. RAW VANILLA COCONUT MACAROONS. I ate those babies in like two days. (That’s probably not the idea behind healthy snacking, but I want to make it clear how absolutely delicious this stuff is). And there was a wonderful variety of snacks for everyone in our family to enjoy! 

The packing of the snacks was super organized and appealing to the eye, which was just a bonus in my book!

The best part about all these options is that they ship out the same day you order them and usually arrive in two days! That's fast snacking!

1.03.2014

Chubby Vegan Son turns one ... mom breaks down

You're going to have to pardon my drama queen-ness I'm currently rocking.

I just can't - for the life of me - figure out how my beautiful baby boy is already one. I'm basically teetering on the edge of tears anytime I think about it. What's next, he's going to be driving a car and leaving me to have his own family?

It's so hard to think that just over a year ago I had been blessed with my sweet baby boy. How on Earth did my chunky monkey man go from this adorable, squishy-faced baby to this dashing, handsome toddler?

Maybe I should slow down. 

Don't get me wrong. I was a complete basketcase during my daughter's first birthday as well (and every single one to follow), but there's something scarier about this one. What if Braeburn happens to be our last baby? What if this was the last smash cake I bake? What if?

Sure, Chubby Vegan Dad and I toss around the idea of a third. I think we'd both adore another bouncing baby blessing, but that doesn't mean it will end up in our cards. It doesn't mean it will come to fruition. Just because you WANT something doesn't mean it's the right decision. 

The truth is, I want a third child more than I can explain. I picture us as a family of five, I see three children sitting at our kitchen table. But the problem is all of the things a child encompasses. Is there an endless amount of love? YES. More smiles? YES.

But there's other things that come with another child that you can't ignore. 

I already feel guilty because I didn't give Braeburn a good enough first birthday party like I swore I would. When people told me having a child near Christmas was terrible for the child, I promised to make his birthdays a big deal. And this year, it was simply too hard. It wasn't that it was just Christmas, but that we JUST moved into a new house, that we just BOUGHT said house, that I had two work trips in the matter of a few months, that we weren't just celebrating his birthday, but my niece and nephew's as well.

It doesn't matter if I have all the best excuses in the world; it doesn't matter that he'll never remember it in the first place. I let myself down. And in turn, I feel like I let me son down. 

We did manage to make some cake. And honestly, I think Braeburn liked having his own cake better than all the gifts. Heck, I think he enjoyed the bath he received after smashing his smash cake all over his face and head even more than the cake, the gifts or the party. He's an easy boy to please, which is why I want to spend my life making him feel as special and loved as he really is. 

I don't know what the future has in store for our family. I know that my heart is big enough to love another, but I don't know what that means for the other pieces of my life: the guilt, the worries, our wallets, the stress, the feeling like I'm failing at everything. I don't know if my heart can handle that. 

So for now I'll smash these photos into my memories, because I'm not sure how much smash cake their is ahead.

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1.01.2014

Vegan broccoli fra diavolo ... say what???

Yeah, I wasn't too sure what this was either.

Turns out, I've eaten the fra diavolo sauce multiple times in my life and had no idea it was actually a "thing." Here I always thought it was just some silly name an Italian joint came up with, but no, like all baffling (but delicious) things in life it's legit.

Fra diavolo describes a sauce that is generally made up of tomatoes and chili peppers and placed over pasta or seafood, but in this wacky world we live in it can also mean a spicy sauce that uses cayenne or other hot things.

Here's the problem with that whole "seafood and pasta" designation: I don't eat seafood and I'm REALLY trying to cut back on the carbs (because they're delicious and I could eat them at every single meal of the day forever). So I tried to figure out what the heck we could make that would be low-carb, but delicious and still utilize the whole fra diavolo thing.

Broccoli was the answer.

But not just broccoli, also it's crazy cousin cauliflower.

Did you know cauliflower is basically the most magical vegetable of all time? It can form into whatever you want! So on my venture to eliminate carbs out of some of my meals, I found cauliflower to be the go-to answer.

In honor of cauliflower's amazingness, you're about to see loads of recipes using it in so many more ways than just boiling it and slapping some Earth Balance vegan butter on it (although, that's delicious too).

Happy cauliflowering friends :)

vegan dinner, broccoli, fra diavolo


Vegan broccoli fra diavolo
(serves 4-6 friends AND sounds really fancy)
Ingredients:
3 cups of tomatoes peeled and diced (try to keep the juice!)
2 TB tomato paste
4 TB extra virgin olive oil
1 TB garlic
2 tsp dried red chili pepper flakes
2 tsp dried parsley
2 bigger bunches of broccoli, cut into florets
2 heads of cauliflower, cut into small chunks
2 TB vegan butter
1/4 cup plain almond milk
Salt to taste

Directions:
Cut your heads of cauliflower and boil on high in a large pot until soft (about 15 minutes for us). Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. While this is cooking, dice up your tomatoes and place them in a mixing bowl, try to retain the juice off your cutting board. Mix in olive oil, garlic, dried red chili pepper flakes and parsley. Set aside.

Cut up your broccoli into small florets. Place florets on a greased cookie sheet and bake on 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Pour your fra diavolo sauce (the tomato mixture you stirred together earlier) over the broccoli florets and cook for another 15-20 minutes (until the broccoli starts to brown).

While this is cooking, puree your boiled cauliflower in a food processor or blender with vegan butter and salt to taste. Add almond milk until desired consistency is reached (ours was like a runny mashed potato).

Scoop cauliflower mixture onto a plate and then top with the roasted broccoli fra diavolo.

Eat a ton of it because it doesn't have loads of carbs in it (and it's delicious)!

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